Wednesday, July 30, 2014
TimeformUS Analyst Mike Beer
TimeformUS Analysis for Thursday July 31st.
Race 1: Steeplechase
Race 2: Pick 5 kicks off here, and #4 None Like Nolan figures to be solidly favored. He came back to dirt at Monmouth last time and put in a good enough effort to be second best, and the 90 TFUS Speed Figure he earned there is tops in the field. We aren't wildly against him, but he doesn't have much speed. Could be vulnerable to a horse like #2 Warrior's Hero, who stretches out after getting the best of a pace duel going shorter last time. Distance is a question for him, but he could wind up in early control here and be dangerous. We are also interested in #1 Updraft, who raced greenly behind graded-stakes bound The Big Beast in his debut and will now stretch out for his second start. Dam was a Breeders' Cup Distaff winner, and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin excels with second-time starters (100 rating) and with horses going from sprint to route (99).
Race 3: #2 Henry's Gal cut a quick pace going longer in her turf debut last time, and figures to benefit from this turn-back to 5.5-furlongs. She's had gate trouble more than once in the past, which she won't be able to afford today, but she's fast and talented, and she handled turf well last time.
#4 Image of Noon will appreciate any pace that Henry's Gal brings to the table, and she has returned in good form this year. #8 Hot Squeeze holds an entry into an overnight stakes race here on Wednesday, but would obviously be a big player were she to await this spot. #7 Neck of the Moon and #9 White Sangria are also contenders in what has come up a solid race.
Race 4: #6 Big Town is dropping off the claim, which may not be the best sign in the world, but he has been in very good form recently in Kentucky, where he has been facing tougher (race ratings have consistently been higher for those races than the 100 rating for today's race) while putting his fine early speed to good use. #4 North Ocean seemed to get back to one of his better races last time, and he earned the top last speed figure in the field by a clear margin for that front-running score, but he was able to get away unchallenged in there, and that may not be the case today. Will be making first start off the claim by Pletcher/Repole here, so wouldn't expect him to be a fair price. #5 Crushing is making his third start back from a long layoff, and may be the main beneficiary if a contested pace develops. He's managed to win only at Parx so far, but he's run OK in NY in the past, and faced a runaway winner last time.
Race 5: Wide-open turf sprint for maiden claimers appears to be a good spot for returnee #5 Stay in Front and first-time starter #10 Boca Babe. Stay in Front ran very well in her only start, which came over this track last summer, and returns for a $40k tag with a trainer change (she raced for the same owners in that debut run). Of the others, we'll use a little of #3 Golden Maria, as she has been involved in a pair of very fast paces this year and may be dangerous if able to get away a little easier in this spot.
Race 6: Tough way to close out the sequence, with a field full of NY-bred first time starting 2yos awaiting. #1 Scorecard Harry wins the pedigree contest, as his dam was a Grade 2 winner and has already dropped three stakes winners, including Lovely Lil, who won the Grade 2 Go for Wand and made just shy of $300k.
#3 Persuasive Devil has valuable experience and showed enough in her debut to be considered. Pletcher has a firster in #5 Bullheaded Boy, who was just purchased for $115k in June after working a quarter in :21.3. #7 Saratoga Heater brought $100k after working a furlong in :10.2 and has continued to breeze well up here, and #8 Watergate has been working well for George Weaver.
Race 7: Full gate of hard-hitting older turf horses going 9 furlongs here, and the ML favorite, #3 Grand Rapport, is the horse to beat. He's one of the coolest horses around, having returned to competitive form after a layoff of over a year, and he ran very well over 1 1/2 miles here less than a week ago. We'll use him, but we want to play #7 Zane on top. Zane has endured some tough luck in NY recently, with his rider overcommitting to the inside all the way in each of his last two starts. He gets a rider change today to Joe Rocco, Jr., who was aboard for that convincing win at Gulfstream back in March. #8 Sayler's Creek is one length away from winning six straight turf routes, but he's been getting one perfect trip after another in those races and was defeated the one time he didn't have all the best of it. Trainer Chris Englehart saddles a pair of contenders in #4 Majestic Raffy and #5 Madris. We prefer the former, as he had little chance to impact from off of a walking pace here opening day.
Race 8: One-mile turf race goes through Todd Pletcher's #6 Storm, undefeated on grass and out of state-bred conditions. He has a versatile running style and plenty of upside, and he could have found a much tougher field than this one, all things considered. #5 Shaun's Blessing could be a big danger to the favorite as he makes just his third lifetime start. He's raced a bit greenly so far, but has positional speed and may have found the nine furlongs a touch too far last time. #9 Los Borrachos has transferred well to grass for Bill Mott, and #4 Mister Special made a promising debut in Chicago last summer before going to the sidelines for top connections.
Race 9: $100k Evan Shipman for NY-breds is perhaps set to feature a contested pace between the two favorites, #6 Escapefromreality and #8 Big Business.
Both enter here off of big performances and are the right two horses, assuming they don't battle each other into defeat. We prefer Escapefromreality, who was first back from the layoff when engaged in a hard duel last time and did well to get the best of it before getting nailed on the line. He figures tighter for this one, has shown the ability to rate, if necessary, and owns a win over this track and trip. Big Business has been holding strong form over a long series of races since getting on dirt, but he has been at his best around one turn downstate and may be severely tested by this trip. If those two hurt each other early, #7 Awesome Vision seems likeliest to pick up the pieces.
Race 10: #3 Bold Challenger hasn't been seen in 180 days, but he is unlikely to find a much better spot than this one to make his return. He's kept the best company and run the fastest races, and he has the kind of speed that should allow him to avoid being compromised by pace or trip. Assuming he's not ready, I guess #2 Anmaat could be given another chance, as he received an ill-advised unaggressive ride and then got wired by Cashmere Cat last time. #11 Grandpa Len comes back to grass after running well in each of his two starts off of a long break. Think he's better on dirt, but he certainly fits here.